HOW DO I GET WELL? LET’S START WITH THE SMALL STUFF.

Here are some ideas  about leaving the prison of depression that just might work for you. They worked for me.

I hope that the following ideas and cautions work as well for you as they do for me. I have paraphrased  a few of  the  thoughts of Dr. Aquilino Polaino-Lorente, Chair of Psychopathology  at the Complutense  University of Madrid Spain.

1)  He says that the more time that we spend in bed when depressed the more difficult will be the recovery; 2) Physical exercise or some kind of sport are ever useful on addressing the illness that one suffers from; 3) He/she should not stay at home watching television but must go out and walk down streets or go to the mall, and begin to take up those small things that made him/her feel happy;4)  NOT talking to other people is not a good travel companion for this illness: he/she must retrieve the relationships and social relationships of his friendships; 5) He/she must try to have a full day, even if  this amounts to various kinds of small activities.”

SOURCE: Dolentium Hominum. Is Depression Solely a Matter of Medical Intervention?

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I especially feel that talking to other folks about the way we feel is really a good place to start. Our Depressed Anonymous group can build healthy relationships. The Depressed Anonymous group gets us out of our isolation and a group solidarity focusing on recovery  promotes a persistent effort to learn and live multiple ways to feel differently. Even though the gains might appear small at first, they in fact have an accumulating effect for  living life  with hope and vigor.

SADNESS CAN BE OVERCOME BY HOPE!

”  Remarkable things happen to us when we are willing to admit defeat and talk about our powerlessness over depression and how our lives had become un-manageable.  This first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living.  At our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous we talk hope, we act hopeful, and we think hope. We learn that our thinking depressed and negative thoughts might have gotten us in the shape that we are in today. What you think is what you become.  For us who find sadness our second nature, we at times continue to revert to the comfort of old familiar negative thinking and are in actuality returning to self destructive behavior. Hope is overcome by sadness.”

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous. Depressed Anonymous Publications.Page 107.

We all have heard the saying, seeing is believing. I prefer the reverse, namely, that believing is seeing. Once the newcomer arrives through the door of a Depressed Anonymous meeting for the first time, they will hear and see recovery in action.

Possibly for the first time the newcomer  to the DA group  will hear their story voiced by the various  members of the group. They will see that they are not alone.  They discover how their own sadness gets a positive  jolt as they  hear hope expressed in the  recovery group. It is easier to believe someone when they share the same conditions of isolation, and feeling hopeless that you feel.   In fact, in a group of people much like oneself, you begin to see that maybe, just maybe, there is hope for you as well.

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE!

It takes one to know one is  true. Following my own depression experience and the setting up of Depressed Anonymous groups did I realize that I had an experience which could be used to help others. I knew what it felt like to suffer  the physical symptoms of depression.  Following the attainment of my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, I discovered many in my practice  came  seeking help to overcome their  depression. Gradually it dawned on me that I could  be a source of support  to others — just by sharing my own struggle with depression.  Once I shared with my clients my own battles with the dark monster, it became clear by sharing my own  story that they began to open up about their own battle with the dark monster. My clients found someone who could not only relate to their own story about isolation, shame and the continual physical pain caused by depression–but they heard how helplessness and despair had given way to hope! My own story validated their story.  That it takes one to know one is so true.

This is where Bill W., (co-founder of AA) learned the greatest lesson, namely that an addict will be more open to listen to some one who has or is fighting the  same battles that you are fighting. And the best is that by using the program of recovery that we have used and still use  today, might find  life starting to be lived with serenity and hope.

It is not complicated. Here it is, laid out simply and to the point. I was once severely depressed and now I am not. How did this happen one will ask? It happened by believing that by being part of a fellowship of people just like myself  and following a way of life, marked out step by step, that I, like Bill W., and all other addicts will see how with  our belief that I  can get better,  get better. It does take work and time. We learn to not live in our past -it’s gone forever- and not to live in the future–but to live in the now, today. All we have is this 24 hour period.  As the Yiddish saying goes, “to share my story is to save my life.” It’s so true. When I discovered the 12 Steps, shared my story and made prayer and meditation a  part of  my daily routine,  I began to taste the freedom  that comes with that ‘spiritual awakening’ which occurs when we are able to share our story with those still suffering. The depressed newcomer will know that you are the “real deal.”  And if you are fortunate enough to find a group in your locale you then will find out what we all have all discovered–it takes one to know one.

BUILDING A FUTURE ONE DAY AT A TIME!

“We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our life was unmanageable.”

Granted this is not the most happiest of thoughts to read as we get going this day.  But you know what?  It’s at this point in your life that something, some attitude change is going to give you courage to take back control over your life. Years ago when I was doing a project for my degree work I discovered, (like I didn’t know it by my own life experiences) that when a person feels they have control over their life and life’s circumstances that their symptoms of depression start to disappear. So, is this a fact or is it something somebody just told me, without any foundation in fact. The truth of the matter is, that when I felt most helpless and hopeless and my life was falling apart, I had no control. It was literally the feeling of sliding  down that slippery slope. I actually felt at that moment like my life was truly spinning out of control. I can even remember the place, the time of day when it happened. That was in 1985. I was completely powerless. Helpless. All alone in my pit of isolation. Alone with my secret. I looked the same. No one knew the disabling effect this paralyzing  had in my life. But  I knew. That  was the important issue here. I knew. I felt the total pain of the isolation.

And now these many years latter, I still  use the Steps for CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT.  Back to Step One where we say we “admitted…” In our Workbook it states that  “But what good is it to admit that our depression has made us feel powerless? I already know what you might say?  That is why I have spent thousands of dollars on hospitals, doctors, counselors and drugs!” But really for a person to admit that they are powerless is what gives us new power –paradoxically. It’s like in the letting go of a death grip on our continued sadness that makes the sadness  gradually wither and die.. But somehow  – again I don’t know how it all works  –when I say I am depressed, deflated, and down and have the 12 Steps and the fellowship at my side there is a small ray of lite starting to shine in my mind and heart. It’s like saying I’ve had it this way all my life —depressed and isolated- now  I’ll try it your way.”

Here is the next question that can help clarify some of your thinking today.

One of the major ways people help build the walls of depression is to believe the following statement: “Since bad things happened to me in  the past, bad thing are bound to happen to me in the future. ” Today, reflect, be aware of your own feelings, write  down on paper your response, then get motivated to do something now, today. Do something which will  motivate you to move and perform an activity that you can achieve just today. You are building a future one day at a time.  Keep it simple!

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT AND HOW TO GET STARTED!

We all enjoy taking part in quizzes and surveys. At least I do. It’s pretty much a challenge to see how much we know or don’t know.  By doing the quiz we possibly learn just a little bit more about whatever the subject may be, even though we might not answer all the  questions correctly. In a certain fashion we have clarified a bit of  our thinking about a certain subject.

Clarification of thought is a most difficult process when It comes to a mind swallowed up by depression, is  confused, darkened with fog and just extremely exhausted. Many of us wanted to think our way out of depression, as if our will power could push open that prison door which continued to keep us locked up. Will power is useless initially. What we do need is a fairly straight forward and simple approach to getting at the genesis  of our sadness. Along the way of the clarification process we  find out and discover more of who we are, how we got to be where we are and what to do now that we know what we got and how we got here. For one, I don’t believe that that paralyzing feeling of melancholia just drops out of the sky and hits me on the head and knocks me down. So, I start with where I believe it all gets started.  The pain  is inside of me so I have to start there!

After getting some physical stamina back into my life I began to ask myself some questions–each as it pertains to the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous.  I used a process which I called the clarification of thought process. How I was thinking about myself and speaking  to myself needed to be examined to see how much of my thinking got me to where I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

Today, if you would like to join with me, I will, pose a few questions about your own experience with depression and then you can evaluate how that affects your life today.

1.  When you feel depressed what do you say to yourself?

2. What action or behavior do you do when you feel this way?

3. Does it promote more isolation or being more connected?

We are using the Depressed Anonymous Workbook to help us work through the questions that will help us all clarify our thinking and thus gradually free us from the mystery of what keeps us in bondage. Continue your program of recovery using the Clarification of thought process and you will find a key that will present to you the ” courage to change what you can.”

MY COMFORT ZONE

IF YOU WANT SOMETHING THAT YOU NEVER HAD BEFORE, YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING THAT YOU NEVER DID BEFORE.

Well, that pretty much says it all. We all have our comfort zones–that is for sure. About two weeks ago, a friend of mine wanted to know if I would join him in getting out the vote here in the USA. I told him I would. All it entailed was going to certain neighborhoods and knocking on people’s doors and asking them if they were going to vote in the Midterm elections. If they said yes, then I would tell them where the polling place was located. I spent two days of this–knocking on doors and asking them to get out and vote for their candidates. I had never, in my whole life done this before–going and knocking on strangers doors and asking them to vote. (Only time before was when I was a kid and went “trick or treating” on Halloween.) Anyway, the whole point here is that I was very uncomfortable knocking on doors and talking to total strangers. It was way out of my “comfort zone.”
When I was depressed I entered into another type of “comfort zone” namely an isolation zone–where all I wanted to do was just do nothing. Just absolutely nothing. Except sleep. My comfort zone was like I was living in a glass house–I could see everything around me but I had no interest in or connection to what happened outside my walls. I had no desire to get involved with former activities that provided me with a sense of purpose or happiness. My mantra was “I’ll do it when I feel better.” Finally I made up my mind, crawled out of my comfort zone and walked through the doors of my first 12 Step meeting. This was a very un-comfortable move for me as I forced myself to go and get help for what could possibly kill me.
Reader, just know that if you want help for yourself or a loved one–knock on our door–come on in– know that if you are depressed, or a friend is depressed, we have the tools to help you find your way out of your prison of depression. You’ll be taking a step into a new way of living.

Expression-not depression.

Expressing oneself and sharing personal feelings can liberate ourselves from thoughts that imprison us and isolate us. They isolate us from others and the world around us.
I have found that it is in the milieu of an accepting and understanding group of people that I can grow and share my feelings. I have witnessed these many years (30 ) how all of us, including myself, can gradually come to trust others with feelings of shame, hurt and pain. In fact, it is in the context of my 12 step group program of recovery that I became a different person. I was able to come out of the shadows of my isolating depression and found people just like myself. They taught me and proved to me that just by coming back to meeting after meeting and sharing their own feelings that something, a power if you will, enabled them to move forward. No longer was I isolated in my own prison of depression but now I became liberated to talk freely, share freely, and join with others on this road to sanity and serenity. I AM NO LONGER ALONE!
Just by hearing myself share my feelings of how depressed I was–and listened to with respect–no “SNAP OUT OF IT HERE–I now found that toolbox of hope and freedom. I call this the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous.
Comments are always welcome here and a place where you too can share